Vincent Lionti, Violist and Youth Orchestra Conductor, Dies at 60


This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic.

For more than 30 years, Vincent J. Lionti, a violist with the Metropolitan Opera, sat in the pit looking up at dimly lit conductors. But in Westchester County, N.Y., he had a different stance: Mr. Lionti stood on the podium looking out at the players of the Westchester Youth Symphony.

“I especially delight in seeing the look of accomplishment on these young musicians’ faces when they walk offstage after a concert, into the wings where I like to stand and congratulate them,” Mr. Lionti told the Met Orchestra Musicians blog in 2014.

Mr. Lionti died on Saturday of complications of the new coronavirus, the Metropolitan Opera said in a posting on its website. He was 60.

Leading the youth orchestra was something of a familial calling. The conductor before Mr. Lionti took up the baton was his father, C. Victor Lionti.

Vincent began playing with the ensembles of the Greater Westchester Youth Orchestras Association when he was 12. He led the Westchester Junior Strings, another of the association’s ensembles, for four years before taking over its Youth Symphony, in 1997.

As a 21-year-old violist, Mr. Lionti was among five young musicians introduced by Isaac Stern in 1980 at a concert of chamber music at Carnegie Hall billed as “Isaac Stern and …”

He performed extensively thereafter, appearing as a soloist and in a variety of small groups as well as with orchestras.

Mr. Lionti, who was born on April 9, 1959, held bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School. Before joining the Met Orchestra, he was a member of the Detroit Symphony for four years and a substitute for the New York Philharmonic for two.

In addition to his father, Mr. Lionti is survived by his wife, Kristin (Bostrup) Lionti; a son, Nicholas; and a sister, Kathryn.

In 1998 Mr. Lionti led the Youth Symphony in a concert that he later remembered as one of the most moving experiences in his musical career. It was at the New York School for the Deaf in White Plains, N.Y.

“All of the people came in, sat as close to the orchestra as they could, on the floor,” he said in a 2006 interview with The Journal News of Westchester. “We had a gigantic orchestra, 110 players making quite a sound in a gymnasium, and I’m sure they could feel the vibrations.”

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